SUWANEE RIVER*

For those who can’t, or don’t want to make the 150+ mile, open-water jump across Florida’s Big Bend from Anclote Key to Carrabelle, in the panhandle, there are some nice gunk holes along the “Forgotten Coast,” One of the more interesting has to be Suwannee River. That’s RIGHT, the one Stephen Foster wrote about! 

Whether you’re coming into the river from the Bradford Island Pass, or West Pass, the scenery is very reminiscent of the bayou country in South West Louisiana. It’s all flat, salt marsh, reeds and rushes. Shallow little creeklets flow into the larger channels. There are two islands separating Bradford and Hog Island channel and Day Marker 27 is at the Hog Island end of the cut. Holding is good in about 8 feet or so with a sandy bottom.

Several miles up the river the scenery changes to thick cypress swamp much like that of the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana or the Waccamaw in South Carolina. There are two marinas in the town on your left as you go up river. They were hard to find when I was there. No signage from the river. Had to ask one of the passing fishermen where. 

Gateway Marina is the first one going up river. They sell gas and diesel, have floating docks and allow liveaboards. They also have a travel lift for haul outs.

Suwannee Marina is about a half mile or so further up the river and well hidden. You have to exit the river into a creek then make a left hand turn after a hundred yards into a canal and then a right hand turn into the marina. They sell gasoline only, have some marine supplies and a restaurant. They rent dock space but you can’t stay on your boat over night. The restaurant is open for breakfast seven days a week but lunch only Monday through Saturday. DON’T order the meatloaf! Everything else is okay. If you ask they will give you their password to their WiFi.

About a half mile up the road from the Suwannee Marina is a small store that will rip your eyeballs out on pricing. But it’s the only place around to buy any kind of canned goods or frozen foods. In back of the store they carry a limited assortment of marine supplies and fishing gear.

Going a bit farther up the river there are plenty of quiet, out-of-the-way places where you could drop the hook. One place I enjoyed was a mile or so up the river from the town by Lock Creek. There’s good protection from the winds, plenty of depth, and very little problem from the wakes of passing fishing boats.

While I enjoyed the four weeks I spent in the Suwanee, two going north and two returning south waiting for a weather window, there isn’t much here. Be prepared before you go. You’ll be 25 miles from the nearest REAL grocery store, but you can buy liquor a mile away from either of the marinas. A doctor or dentist is 25 miles away while the nearest hospital is 60! A pharmacy is 38 miles away. 

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